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School sued for fake cancer test

A biotechnology company is suing the University of Pittsburgh over a test for prostate cancer, linkurl:the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported last week.;http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/s_641304.html The lawsuit claims the test is "no more accurate in distinguishing cancerous tissue from normal tissue than flipping a coin," according to the newspaper. After researcher Robert Getzenberg said he had identified a new biomarker for prostate cancer in 2001, the University of Pitt

By | September 8, 2009

A biotechnology company is suing the University of Pittsburgh over a test for prostate cancer, linkurl:the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported last week.;http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/s_641304.html The lawsuit claims the test is "no more accurate in distinguishing cancerous tissue from normal tissue than flipping a coin," according to the newspaper. After researcher Robert Getzenberg said he had identified a new biomarker for prostate cancer in 2001, the University of Pittsburgh patented the marker and investors spent millions to found a company called linkurl:Onconome;http://www.onconome.com/ to develop and market it. Six years later, Redmond, Wash.-based Onconome discovered that the entire claim was based on "imaginary" and manipulated results, the lawsuit claimed -- during that time, Getzenberg had been leaving out the data that "was inconsistent with his claims." Onconome is suing the university for failing to properly supervise Getzenberg's research, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The university told the newspaper it doesn't comment on pending litigation, and the paper couldn't reach Getzenberg for comment. linkurl:Getzenberg is now the research director;http://urology.jhu.edu/robertgetzenberg/index.php of Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions in Baltimore, Md., the overarching organization that includes the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the Johns Hopkins Health System. (Hat tip -- linkurl:ScienceInsider);http://blogs.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2009/09/researcher-sued.html
**__Related stories:__***linkurl:Stem cell fraud...again?;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/55879/
[6th August 2009]*linkurl:Life After Fraud;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/55772/
[July 2009]*linkurl:Fixing Fraud;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/55476/
[ March 2009]

Comments

Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 7

September 8, 2009

Getzenberg massaged data??
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 125

September 8, 2009

To show that yet another "prominent" scientist is a fraud and that scientific fraud occurs more frequently than the public thinks or wishes not, in the current state of research science.

September 9, 2009

\n\nIf the alleged offense is proven, it would be fair that Dr Getzenberg and the University of Pittsburg \n\n1. pay in full the company, investors and patients involved (If there are any)\n \n2. pay all legal fees\n\n3. pay back NIH all the awards given to Dr Getzenberg and the recipient institutions since 2001.\n\n4. Dr Getzenberg and the University officials, who failed to perform their duties, should spend a few months in a correctional facility (jail) so that they learn about the ?privileges? that other people receive when they steal money to help themselves with their addiction disease, or those who steal money to buy food for them and their families, or are caught working hard but undocumented to send money to their families back in poor countries. This would be educational and testimonial\n
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 3

September 9, 2009

Just because a researcher publishes data and patents something doesn't mean that it's to be trusted. That the company can't make use of the findings doesn't even mean the findings are wrong. Differences in cell type, tissue origin, reagents, protocols can give results that look promising for some, but that may not work in a larger setting. This is why it is important for the scientific community to independently verify the work of individuals (a practice that is in woefully short supply of late).\n\nThe university is not responsible for the findings of its faculty. To hold the institution to that level of responsibility is to cede the conduct of research [by its nature, fundamentally exploration] to those not involved in the science. In short, the company should have been more careful in deciding to invest, investigated the claims of the patent, looked for corroborating evidence, and so on. Companies throughout history have made bad investment decisions, universities (and even faculty-whether unethical or not) should be immune from such lawsuits.

September 11, 2009

\nDear anonymous,\n\nWhile I agree with some of the principles underlying your arguments, I feel as if the presentation of some points is somehow ambiguous. \n\nFirst: **This is why it is important for the scientific community to independently verify the work of individuals (a practice that is in woefully short supply of late).**\n\nValidating findings is an essential step in every research project and is the responsibility of every investigator or research group before publishing them. That is supposed to be the norm. Academic and research institutions, as curators and managers of public and private funds, should have rules in place to ensure that a technology is not a scam and does not jeopardize public health.\n\nValidating findings ?after the facts?, particularly when the facts indicate potential abuse of public and private funds and, potential danger for public health is, in my view, a matter for the legal experts to resolve. If there are claims of abuse, the mechanisms to investigate it and correct it should be the same than those used in other societal arenas. It does not make sense to hold different standards for Academic and Research institutions, which are by definition leading institutions, where everyone looks for guidance, inspiration and ethical behavior. \n\n\nSecond, **The university is not responsible for the findings of its faculty. To hold the institution to that level of responsibility is to cede the conduct of research [by its nature, fundamentally exploration] to those not involved in the science.**\n \nScientific/biomedical research is both knowledge and activity. Whereas knowledge has an intrinsic exploratory component, research activity does not happen in a vacuum. It takes place in a social context (finances, priorities, impacts on science education, public health, economic growth and societal values). It follows that there should be ACCOUNTABILITY. \n\nThe idea of *conduct of research [by its nature, fundamentally exploration)* appears a medieval concept that has not incorporated critical conceptual contributions from the social and biomedical sciences. Such an idea only helps make scientific research irrelevant. Let?s look for example at Agricultural Sciences. Does it make sense to reduce research in that area to ?exploration? when 2/3 of the world population is suffering hunger, living under the poverty line and experiencing the consequences of poor health and education?.\n\n\n\n\n
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 1

September 14, 2009

In the first sentence, Univeristy of Pittsburgh has lost it's final "h".
Avatar of: Jef Akst

Jef Akst

Posts: 28

September 14, 2009

The Scientist has fixed the spelling mistake in the first sentence of this article. Thank you for bringing it to our attention.

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